Women’s Sports Column 22-28 April 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  There is so much to get through this week I’m going to crack straight on!  Stories come from football, tennis, athletics, netball, squash, gymnastics, taekwondo, cricket, hockey and rugby.  You can probably guess my “And finally” again this week….

Football – Off the Pitch

World Cup 2019

The draw has been made for the European section of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.  England have been drawn in the same group as Wales along with Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The seven group winners will qualify automatically with the four best runners-up going into a two-round play-off to fill the last qualifying spot.

Qualifiers take place between 11 September 2017 and 4 September 2018

The draw in full:

Group 1: England, Russia, Wales, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan.

Group 2: Switzerland, Scotland, Poland, Belarus, Albania.

Group 3: Norway, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland.

Group 4: Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, Croatia.

Group 5: Germany, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Faroe Islands.

Group 6: Italy, Belgium, Romania, Portugal, Moldova.

Group 7: Spain, Austria, Finland, Serbia, Israel.

PFA Awards

Lucy Bronze was awarded PFA Women’s Player of the Year this week.  The other shortlisted candidates were Jane Ross, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Karen Carney and Caroline Weir.

Jess Carter won the Women’s Young Player of the Year award.   Nikita Parris, Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir and Millie Bright were also shortlisted.

Kelly Smith was given a PFA Special Achievement Award.

On the Pitch

European Champions League

Saturday 22 April
Manchester City 1- 3 Lyon

Manchester City face an uphill battle if they are to overcome cup holders Lyon and qualify for the Champions League final.

Lyon went ahead after only two minutes after Carli Lloyd handled in the penalty area.  Saki Kumagai stepped up to score the penalty.

Kosovare Asllani equalised for City but the away side were quick to take the lead again, this time through Dzsenifer Marozsan.

French striker Eugenie Le Sommer scored a third in the second half.

The second leg takes place on Saturday 29 April.

Spring Series

The Spring Series is underway – without Notts County Ladies.

Saturday 22 April

Bristol City 1-3 Reading

After a goalless first half the visitors took the lead on 49 minutes when Rachel Furness headed home from a Rachel Rowe corner.

They were two up ten minutes later when Rowe carved out a chance to score herself and the tie was effectively over on 61 minutes when Melissa Fletcher poked home from a mistake in the Bristol defence.

Lauren Hemp pulled one back for the home side, but the points were gone.

Sunday 23 April

Birmingham City 0-0 Sunderland

With most of the possession and scoring opportunities, Birmingham City will be rueing missing their chances in this game, while Sunderland will be more than happy with a point.

Yeovil Town Ladies 1-4 Liverpool Ladies

The day started in a comedic fashion when it was revealed that Liverpool had forgotten to bring their away kit and so had to play in the home side’s away kit.  However, this was the end of the comedy for Yeovil Town’s as their first experience of the WSL1 was a tough one.

Liverpool took the lead on 23 minutes as Yeovil were penalised for handling in the box.  Alex Greenwood converted the penalty.

The away side doubled their lead in first-half injury time as Gemma Bonner poked home from a corner.

Yeovil were three down after 65 minutes when Katie Zelem scored from a Shanice Van De Sanden corner.  Zelem got her second on 75 to take it to 4-0.

Yeovil pulled one back in the 78th minute through a Sarah Wiltshire penalty.

Athletics

World Relays

Great Britain’s 4x400m team missed out on a bronze medal by 0.23 seconds in the Bahamas this week.  The team of Emily Diamond, Laviai Nielsen, Eilidh Doyle and Christine Ohuruogu finished fourth behind USA in first, Poland and Jamaica.

Germany took the 4 x 100m title ahead of Jamaica and China.

Kelly Sotherton

Heptathlete Kelly Sotherton has received her second upgraded bronze in five months after Russian athlete Tatyana Chernova was stripped of the bronze she won at Beijing in 2008 after she tested positive for a steroid.

She had already moved up to fourth from fifth after Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska was disqualified.

London Marathon

Kenyan Mary Keitany won the women’s elite race, breaking Paula Radcliffe’s women-only record in the process.  She ran the marathon in a time of 2 hours 17 minutes 1 second, breaking the record by a massive 41 seconds.

Alyson Dixon was top British finisher in 12th, thus securing her World Championships place.   Jo Pavey was forced to pull out at around the 17 mile mark.

Manuela Schar of Switzerland won the wheelchair race, with Amanda McGrory of the USA in second and fellow American Susannah Scaroni in third.  Britain’s Jade Jones finished fifth.

 Cricket

It’s all change on the Subcontinent as both India and Pakistan have named new coaches just two months before the World Cup.

Pakistan

Sabih Azhar is the new Pakistan coach, taking over from Kabir Khan.  Pakistan also announced their squad for the upcoming tournament:

Sana Mir (Capt), Sidra Nawaz (wk), Ayesha Zafar, Nahida Khan, Marina Iqbal, Bismah Maroof, Javeria Khan, Nain Abidi, Kainat Imtiaz, Asmavia Iqbal, Diana Baig, Waheeda Akhtar, Nashra Sandhu, Ghulam Fatima, Sadia Yousuf.

India

In a surprise move, Purnima Rau has been sacked by the BCCI and replaced by Tushar Arothe.  Arothe was women’s fielding coach and then head coach between 2008 and 2012.

Rau has voiced concern that she only found out about the sacking via the media.

“I was preparing the team for the World Cup when I heard of this from elsewhere.  I wasn’t given any explanation or reason by the board. In fact they didn’t even have the courtesy to inform me. In terms of results, we were successful. To be axed this way is disappointing and insulting.”

Arothe’s first test will be in May in a series in South Africa in a limited overs tournament that also features Ireland and Zimbabwe.

England v Ireland Series

England are currently playing Ireland in a three-match series in Abu Dhabi as their World Cup warm-up continues.

24 April

England XI 397/4 (50 overs)
Ireland 103 all out (44 overs)
England won by 276 runs

Jenny Gunn hit 94 not out and Georgia Elwiss 81 as England comfortably won the first match of the series.

The England bowling was equally impressive with Anya Shrubsole taking 3-11 and Alex Hartley 3-24.

Hockey

Surbiton did the double last weekend as both their men’s and women’s teams won their respective Hockey League Finals.

For the women it was their fourth title in a row as they beat Holcombe 3-1.  Giselle Ansley scored Surbiton’s first and Rebecca Middleton the second before Eleanor Watton pulled one back for Holcombe.

Naomi Evans scored the third to ensure the title went to Surbiton.

Netball

Last weekend saw round 11 of the Netball Superleague.  Loughborough Lightning are still unbeaten and top the table by five points from Wasps as they won a thrilling game against the Thunder by just one point on Saturday.

Saturday 22 April

Team Bath 58-48 Celtic Dragons
Manchester Thunder 57-58 Loughborough Lightning
Team Northumbria 58-55 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Sunday 23 April

Wasps Netball 65-41 Sirens

Monday 24 April

Severn Stars 66-62 Surrey Storm

The next Sky televised game is on Saturday 29 when Mavericks take on the Storm (6pm), but all eyes will probably be on what happens an hour later when the top two, Lightning and Wasps, take on each other in Loughborough’s showcase game at the Leicester Community Arena.

Tennis

Lots of tennis news this week – mostly off the court, unfortunately.   Mr Nastase makes his appearance in my “And finally” comment, but there are other stories to cover.

Fed Cup

In amongst all the controversy and ill-feeling, there was actually some Fed Cup tennis going on last weekend.

Great Britain lost their World Cup Group II play-off against Romania, which means they are back in the Europe/Africa Zone.

Heather Watson lost the first rubber to Simona Halep 6-4 6-1.  Jo Konta levelled the tie when she beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-3.

On day two, though, Halep beat Konta 6-1 6-3 and Britain’s fate was sealed when Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Watson 6-4 7-5

In other Fed Cup news, it will be a USA v Belarus final.

USA beat the Czech Republic 3-2 and Belarus defeated Switzerland by the same margin.

Maria Sharapova

She’s back.  More pictures, film, social media comment and interviews have been devoted to Sharapova’s return this week than any other subject.

And she’s playing well.  After being given a wild card for the Stuttgart tournament she is now into the quarter finals.  She beat Roberta Vinci in the first round and powered past Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1.

She faces Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit in the last eight.  Kontaveit put out fifth seed Garbine Muguruza in the previous round.

But not everyone is happy about her return.  Eugenie Bouchard has labelled Sharapova a “cheater” and said she should not be allowed back on the WTA tour.  The crowds have been respectful but cool.  It’s up to Sharapova to prove herself on the court if she is to win back the more general tennis watcher.

Stuttgart

In other Stuttgart news, Johanna Konta was knocked out in the second round by Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 7-5.

The last eight looks like this:

K Mladenovic v C Suárez Navarro
A Kontaveit v M Sharapova
A Sevastova v S Halep (4)
L Siegemund v K Pliskova (2)

Squash

England’s women’s squash team are through to the semi-finals of the European Team Championships after finishing top of their qualifying group.

They beat Denmark 3-0, the Netherlands 3-0 and Wales 3-0 and will now face the Netherlands again in the semi on Friday 28 April.

Taekwondo

Jade Jones has won gold at the World Taekwondo Federation President’s Cup in Athens.  It was her first competition since December 2016.

She won five contests to take the -57kg title.

Gymnastics

After reaching every final in the European Championships last week, Ellie Downie made good and took the all-round gold at the weekend.

She was in silver position going into the final rotation, but ended up beating Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs by 0.333 points.   Downie scored 55.765 and Kovacs 55.432.  Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France finished in bronze on 55.065.

To cap a stunning weekend Downie also won a silver in the vault and floor and bronze in the uneven bars in the individual competition.

Ellie’s older sister Becky fell and injured her hands and was unable to participate in the beam final.  Her place was taken by Claudia Fragapane, but she fell in the final and finished eighth.  Fragapane also finished seventh on the floor.

Rugby

Premiership Finals

Aylesford Bulls Ladies were the perhaps surprise winners of the last Premiership final before the new Super League starts next season.

Aylesford Bulls 17-8 Bristol

Although they finished third in the table in the regular season, Bulls brought their best rugby to finals day to beat top of the league Bristol.

Aylesford took the lead in the third minute with a try from Hanna Field under the posts.  Jess Wooden converted to make it 7-0.

Bristol were then awarded a penalty, which Amber Reed kicked, but Aylesford hit straight back with their second try, this time from Michela Sillari in the corner.  The conversion was missed and the half-time sc ore was 12-3.

In the second half Bristol got their game together.  On 54 minutes Chantelle Miell went over in the corner.  The conversion was missed, but the deficit was cut to just four points.

But it was not to be for Bristol as Sillari scored her second to take the match away from them and take the game 17-8.

In the 3rd/4th play-off Lichfield took the honours as they beat Saracens 41-14.

Lichfield went ahead in the 16th minute when Emily Braund went over.  Emily Scarratt then added a penalty.

Saracens came back with a try from Lotte Clapp.

But Lichfield hit back themselves with a second try from Braund just on half-time to take the score the 15-7 at the break.

In the second-half Lichfield consolidated their lead with tries from Sarah Bonar and Carys Williams.  Tash Jones and Amy Cockayne scored two more for Lichfield taking the game, with Saracens having the last word with a try from Bryony Cleall.

And Finally

And finally, let’s talk Ilie Nastase.  Great player and entertainer in his time, yes.  But last week he showed that his off-court behaviour is not all it should be.  Firstly he made a racist comment about Serena Williams’ baby (not going to repeat it here), and then he seemingly had a complete meltdown at the Fed Cup tie between Great Britain and Romania.  In my relatively sheltered, liberal world I watched and listened to the unfolding events with shock and, I’m afraid, disbelief.  Do people really speculate about the colour of someone’s baby?  Naive I am, possibly, and if so I apologise, but I’m still struggling to understand why anyone would even say what he did.

As regards his Fed Cup behaviour, I feel pretty much as I did about the David Moyes situation.  Not acceptable in any sense, ever.  I listened to BBC Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller as her tried to make sense of what was going on and you could hear the shock in his voice.  He couldn’t believe what he’d heard and when he interviewed the head of the Romanian Tennis Federation who said basically it was “Ilie being Ilie” you could tell Fuller was biting his tongue to prevent himself giving an inappropriate response.

It is not acceptable that anyone reduces an opposing player to tears.  It is not appropriate that anyone is called “F****** bitches” on a tennis court.  It is up to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to see that it doesn’t happen again.  Will they?  I hope so.

Women’s Sports Column 24 March – 1 April 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  I’m going to have to be brief about it, due to time pressures, but here goes.  Stories this week come from athletics, football, ice hockey, tennis, netball, curling, rugby union, squash and gymnastics.

Netball

It was round six of the Vitality Netball Superleague last weekend.  Storm and Lightning are still unbeaten at the top of the league on 18 points.  Results were as follows:

Friday 24 March

Team Bath 47-38 Team Northumbria

Wasps Netball 52-58 Manchester Thunder

Saturday 25 March

Surrey Storm 69-47 Celtic Dragons

Hertfordshire Mavericks 57-66 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 27 March

Severn Stars 54-45 Sirens

This weekend sees round seven with Sky’s televised match on Monday 3 April being Thunder v Mavericks.  The action starts at 7.30pm.

Tennis

Miami Open

Jo Konta has become the first British woman to get to the final of the Miami Open.

She beat Venus Williams 6-4 7-5 in the semi-final and will now play Caroline Wozniacki in the final on Saturday.

Wozniacki beat Karolina Pliskova 5-7 6-1 6-1.

If Konta takes the title she will rise to seven in the world rankings.

Rugby Union

Bristol finished unbeaten and at the top of the table in the Women’s Premiership.  The final round of matches finished as follows:

25 March 2017

Lichfield Ladies 48-0 Richmond Women

26 March 2017

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 44-17 Worcester Valkyries

DMP Sharks 5-21 Saracens Women

Bristol Ladies 48-7 Wasps Ladies

The unfortunate Lichfield played a marvellous final Premiership game and ended up second in the table, just one point behind Bristol.

Pos Team P W L PD BP Pts
1 Bristol Ladies 14 12 2 338 12 60
2 Lichfield Ladies 14 12 2 251 11 59
3 Aylesford Bulls Ladies 14 10 4 222 9 49
4 Saracens Women 14 9 5 158 10 46
5 Worcester Valkyries 14 6 8 -22 7 31
6 Richmond Women 14 3 11 -274 5 17
7 Wasps Ladies 14 2 12 -375 5 13
8 DMP Sharks 14 2 12 -298 4 12

The play offs will be on 9 April:

12pm Portway Rugby Development Centre

Bristol v Saracens

1pm Cleve RFC

Lichfield v Aylesford Bulls

The Grand Final will be on 23 April at 12pm.

Curling

Team Muirhead were at it again this week as Scotland took bronze at the World Women’s Curling Championships.

They beat Sweden 6-4 to take the medal, while the gold went to Canada as they defeated Russia 8-3 in the final.

Gymnastics

It was the British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool last week.

Ellie Downie just gets better and better, taking vault, bars and all-round gold medals.

Phoebe Turner won gold on the beam.

There was a surprise result in the floor when the title went to 15-year old newcomer Maisie Methuen, beating Claudia Fragapane into silver.

Football

Women’s Champions League quarter finals

Manchester City Women 1-0 Fortuna Hjorring

City win 2-0 on aggregate.

It was a tight affair at the Academy Stadium and became clear early on that it was unlikely to be a goalfest.  In the end City made one of their few chances pay when Lucy Bronze headed home from a Mel Lawler corner just before half-time.  US star Carli Lloyd has a great chance earlier in the half after speeding through the Danish defence, but she hit it wide.  In the second half she was quieter but had a header cleared five minutes from the end.

In the other games:

Lyon 0-1 Wolfsburg

(Lyon win 2-1 on aggregate)

Paris Saint Germain 4-0 Bayern Munich

(PSG win 4-1 on aggregate)

Barcelona 2-0 Rosengård

(Barcelona win 3-0 on aggregate)

City play cup holders Lyon in the semi-final.

FA Cup quarter finals

Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland

Sunderland took the lead through a Lucy Staniforth penalty, but after that it was all Chelsea.  Two goals from Ramona Bachmann and two from Hannah Blundell plus one from Drew Spence saw Chelsea into the semis.

Liverpool 2-0 Notts County

The home side were two up before half-time, with County unable to respond.  Caroline Weir scored in the third minute with Natasha Harding hitting a second before the break.

The Lady Pies were unable to break down the Liverpool defence in the second half.

Birmingham City 1-0 Arsenal

The holders went out to a single goal from Marisa Ewers.  After a goalless first-half the winning strike came in the 77th minute after Arsenal had missed several chances.

Birmingham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger had a stormer, saving from Kim Little, Danielle Carer and Danielle van de Donk in the first-half and Katie McCabe and Jordan Nobbs in the second.

 Bristol City 1-2 Manchester City

Bristol took the lead as Hayley Ladd headed an unfortunate own goal, but by half-time Manchester were level through Claire Emslie.

Nikita Parris hit the winner just before full-time, when it seemed likely the tie was heading into extra time.

FA Cup Semi-final draw

Manchester City v Liverpool

Birmingham City v Chelsea

Both ties should take place on Monday 17 April.

Athletics

Jo Pavey has been awarded a bronze medal from the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, after the original second-place finisher, Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegasse was stripped of her title for a doping offence.  American Kara Goucher has been upgraded to silver and Pavey to bronze.

Squash

Laura Massaro won her second British Open title this week when she beat fellow English woman 11-8 11-8 6-11 11-6.

In doing so she became the first English woman for 66 years to win two British Open titles, having first won it in 2013.

Ice Hockey

Three cheers for the US women’s ice hockey team this week.  They were so fed up over the lack of equality with the men’s game that they threatened to boycott their own world championships in protest.

Just two days before the championships were due to begin they called off the protest as it was announced an agreement with USA Hockey had been reached.

The fine details have not been released but are thought to include a new improved pay deal plus better marketing and promotion from the governing body.  There will also be more support for women’s hockey at grassroots level.

Badminton

India Open

Britain’s Chris and Gabby Adcock are through to the quarter-finals of the India Open.  They beat Yang Lee and Hsu Ya Ching of Taiwan 23-21 22-20 to get there.

They face Bodin Isara and Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand in the next round.

But Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are out of the mixed doubles and Smith and Sarah Walker out of the women’s doubles.

And finally,

A quick tribute to Hazel Irvine, who has announced that she will anchor the BBC’s Masters coverage for the last time in April 2017.

Irvine was a real trailblazer for broadcasting women, particularly in sports considered traditionally “male”.  She has fronted the BBC’s golf broadcasts for 25 years.

I’m a big admirer of Hazel’s.  She is understated, intelligent and knowledgeable, but doesn’t ram her knowledge down the viewer’s throat.

Glad to say she will continue to present the snooker and other major events.

And I’m also pleased to say that Eilidh Barbour will take over in the golf hot seat, and will start with the PGA Championship in May.

Women’s Sports Column 25 February – 3 March 2017

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Stories this week come from the good, bad and downright bizarre sides of women’s sport – I’ll leave you to pick out which is which.  The sports featured this week are rugby union, cricket, football, skeleton, curling, tennis and netball.  Plus an “And finally” that takes “Girl Power” (yuk, but let’s go with it) to a whole new level.

Rugby Union

No doubting the big story this week as the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced its plans for a new women’s Super League to replace the current Premiership.  What is it with women’s sport and super leagues?  First the football, then the netball, then cricket and now rugby; what are the governing bodies trying to say?

Anyway, there was both shock and dismay at the new announcement that named the ten teams involved.  They are:

Bristol
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
Firwood Waterloo
Harlequin FC
Gloucester-Hartpury
Loughborough Students (Lightning)
Richmond FC
Saracens
Wasps
Worcester

So no place for Lichfield who currently lie second in the Premiership table and who boast several internationals in their squad including Emily Scarratt and Harriet Millar-Mills.  Lichfield released a strongly-worded statement expressing their disappointment at missing out.

“Lichfield RUFC is surprised and extremely disappointed by the decision by the RFU to exclude Lichfield Ladies from the new women’s elite competition.

  • We havemade every effort to follow the application process and in doing so have confirmed that we can meet all the required standards as specified.
  • We do not accept the scant reasons given as to why we have not been selected and on the contrary believe that we are one of a very few clubs that can, as of today, already satisfy the necessary conditions regarding players, coaching and facilities.
  • We presented what we believe was a sensible and achievable budget for delivering all of the specified support and facilities to provide the necessary players and performance improvements. We did not propose to spend money that we could not deliver.
  • We have proven our ability to deliver on our promises over many years.
  • We have one of the oldest Ladies sections in the country and have continually evolved over the past 25 years to be one of the best clubs in the country for both women’s and girls’ rugby. We are exceptionally proud of the achievements of our players, coaches and backroom staff and the standards they have reached, in creating new home-grown talent year after year.
  • Our two senior ladies’ teams currently both lie 2nd in the RFU Premiership and the Championship respectively, hence providing two teams in the top 12 nationwide. We are immensely proud of our ability to continually produce not only strong club players, but also international players and some of the best leaders in the ladies’ game.
  • We have helped to produce more than 30 England Internationals and currently have 8 Lichfield players performing in the 2017 Six Nations Championship, as well as supplying a number of World Cup winning players, Olympians and members of the England 7s squad.
  • Very few clubs can boast a tradition and pedigree as strong as this, yet it appears to have been completely disregarded in the selection process.

However, for the good of the game we will continue to support the RFU and direct all our efforts and emotion into completing the 2016/17 season. We will continue to grow the game and develop players to reach their full potential and we shall continue to work closely with the RFU to prepare for the next opportunity to once again participate at the Elite level.”

There is a lot of sympathy for the club and a petition has been started to encourage the RFU to think again.  If you would like to sign it, the link is:

Another team to miss out is high-flying Championship South 1 side Thurrock, who also put in a bid for inclusion.

Gloucester-Hartpury and Waterloo come from the lower leagues, while Loughborough, as I have said before in this column so forgive me if I claim some credit here, are continuing their efforts at world domination with yet another Lightning side joining the fray (adding to the netball and cricket).

The RFU will invest heavily in the new league to help clubs deliver the minimum standards required in coaching, facilities and community engagement.  None of which helps Lichfield or……

Women’s Super Rugby will begin in September 2017 and there will be no promotion or relegation in the first two seasons of the competition.

I’ve got a feeling we’ve not heard the end of this yet, so expect further updates in future columns.

Six Nations

Scotland 15-14 Wales
24 February Broadwood Stadium

Scotland secured their first Six Nations win for seven years last Friday in their last gasp victory over Wales.

Wales took the lead with a try from hooker Carys Phillips.  Elinor Snowsill kicked the conversion.

The score remained at 0-7 until five minutes before half-time when Scotland conceded a five metre scrum.  Scotland infringed at the resultant scrum and Wales were awarded a penalty try, taking the score to 0-14.

But Scotland were not to go scoreless in the first half.  They kept pressing until Lisa Thomson went over and Sarah Law kicked the conversion to halve the deficit and make it 7-14 at the break.

In the second half there was a period of stalemate before Scotland won a five metre scrum.  Jade Konkel broke out and passed to winger Rhona Lloyd who went over to score.  The conversion was missed and the score was 12-14.

But there was still more to come.  Scotland pressed and pressed until they were awarded a penalty.  Laws kicked the three points to take the game.

England 29-15 Italy
The Stoop, 25 February

The visitors started strongly and took the lead with a try from Sofia Stefan.  The conversion was missed.

England struck back a few minutes later as Kay Wilson went in at the corner.  Amy Wilson Hardy scored a second in short order to put the home side in front.

Hooker Vicky Fleetwood then went over for two more to put England in control and secure the bonus point before half-time.

After the break, Fleetwood went in for her third of the match – the first England forward to score a hat-trick in a Six Nations match.

But Italy were not done.  Scrum-half Sarah Barattin went in for Italy’s second try.

Shortly afterwards Katy McLean was sent off for a dangerous tackle and Poppy Cleall sin-binned and England were down to 13.  Manuela Furlan took full advantage, going over in the corner.

But the visitors could do no more and were unable to pick up a losing bonus point.

Ireland 13-10 France
Donnybrook, 26 February

Ireland are still unbeaten in this year’s Six Nations as they fought off a strong French side to claim in win in Dublin.

The first-half was a tight low-scoring affair with Nora Stapleton’s penalty separating the sides at the break.

In the second-half France took the initiative with a try from Caroline Ladagnous, which was converted by Jessy Tremouliere.

Ireland hit back with a try of their own from Leah Lyons, which was converted by Stapleton.  The score was 10-7 with half an hour to go.

Stapleton hit her second penalty to take it to 13-7, and although Tremouliere put over a penalty for France, they could not overcome the deficit to go down 13-10.

England Test Matches Announced

In preparation for the World Cup in Ireland in August, England Rugby has announced that the Red Roses will play the following test matches:

9 June v Australia (Porirua Park, Wellington)

13 June v Canada (Rugby Park, Christchurch)

17 June v New Zealand (Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua)

Elli Norkett

On an altogether sadder note, Ospreys and Wales winger Elli Norkett died in a car crash on 25 February at the age of 20.

Norkett was the youngest player at the 2014 Rugby World Cup, playing for Wales when she was just 17.

She was in her final year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying sport development.

In a Statement the Welsh Rugby Union said,

“A talented, dedicated player and popular teammate, Elli was a treasured member of the Welsh rugby family.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”

Netball

There was a veritable feast of netball at the Genting arena last weekend as the Superleague’s  Super Ten event took place.  These were the results:
Loughborough Lightning 56-44 Severn Stars

Sirens 73-36 Celtic Dragons
Team Northumbria 46-70 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 58-48 Manchester Thunder
Hertfordshire Mavericks 42-49 Team Bath

After two games, Wasps, Storm, Lightning and Bath are all unbeaten.

Football

SheBelieves Cup

England 1-2 France

There was heartbreak for England on Wednesday as they conceded a 95th minute goal to lose the first match in the SheBelieves Cup 2-1.

The Lionesses bossed the first half, taking the lead through a fine strike from Jordan Nobbs, who was the stand-out player of the half.  England pressed in a way I haven’t seen for a while which definitely put France off their stride and were clearly on top at the break.

It would have been England’s first win against France since 1974.  Still can’t believe this is a true stat, but it is.

France equalised in the 80th minute through Marie-Laure Delie and broke English hearts in the 95th when Wendie Renard headed past the England defence to take the win.

This will be a great disappointment to Mark Sampson and may mean that England will yet again be winless in the SheBelieves Cup.

They next play the United States in New Jersey on Saturday 4 March.

In the second game of the tournament, USA beat Germany 1-0 with a goal from Lynn Williams.

You can follow the Lionesses on the FA website.  The France game was on the BBC red button, but, as with all women’s sport, there is no guarantee that this will be the case for the other games and if they are on, no-one is likely to publicise it….

Friendlies

As part of their warm up before the Euros in the summer, the FA has announced that England will play two friendlies:

England v Italy, Friday 7 April, Vale Park (home of Port Vale FC)

England v Austria, Monday 10 April, Stadium MK (home of MK Dons)

Cyprus Cup

Meanwhile, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland are all in action in the Cyprus Cup.

Group A:  
Belgium, Italy, Korea DPR, Switzerland

Group B:  
Austria, Korea Rep, New Zealand, Scotland

Group C:    
Czech Rep, Rep.of Ireland, Hungary, Wales

The first round of matches took place on 1 March and there were wins for all three sides.

Korea DPR 3-0 Italy

New Zealand 2-3 Scotland

Jane Ross opened the scoring for Scotland but New Zealand equalised through Rosie White.  In the second-half Scotland took the lead again through substitute Erin Cuthbert and then went 3-1 ahead through captain Kim Little.  The Kiwis pulled one back late on through Amber Hearn.

Czech Republic 0-2 Republic of Ireland

Stephanie Roche and Aine O’Gorman scored the goals for the Republic to give them a good win in their first match of the tournament.

Belgium 2-2 Switzerland

Korea Republic 0-0 Austria

Hungary 0-2 Wales

Helen Ward scored the first for Wales and Charlie Estcourt doubled the lead in the second half to secure the win.

The second round of matches takes place today, 3 March.

Tennis

It seems to me that the WTA tour is a never-ending list of tournaments and I just don’t have the time or resources to cover it all.  So here is my feeble attempt this week – just one match in one tournament, but what a match!

Heather Watson lost a marathon three-and-a-half hour match against Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 6-7 7-5 in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.

The match saw 15 breaks of serve and the match was ultimately lost by Watson with her 18th double fault.

Mladenovic, who is seeded second in the tournament, plays Kirsten Flipkens in the third round.

Skeleton

Lizzie Yarnold won bronze at the Skeleton World Championships in Germany this week.

Gold went to World Cup leader, Germany’s Jacqueline Lolling with her compatriot, Tina Hermann finishing second.

Yarnold’s time of 2 minutes 36.08 seconds was just 0.73 seconds behind Lolling.

Yarnold’s team-mates Laura Deas finished 10th and Donna Creighton 22nd.

Curling

Eve Muirhead’s team defended their Scottish National Championship title in Perth this week as they beat Hannah Fleming’s team 6-4.

They have now secured a place at the World Championship in Beijing, which takes place in April.

Cricket

Australia v New Zealand ODI Series

After New Zealand won the T20 series, you can guarantee that the ODI series will be equally keenly fought.  And indeed, after two games they are tied one each.

First ODI
New Zealand 276/5
Australia 275 all out
New Zealand won by 5 wickets

The on-form Amy Satterthwaite scored 102 not out to see the home side to victory with five balls to spare.

Australia were all out in 48.4 overs with Lea Tahuhu taking 4/49 and Holly Huddleston 3/46.  Beth Mooney scored 100 for the visitors.  In the early stages the Southern Stars were 237/3, but subsided after Mooney, Elyse Villani and Rachael Haynes were dismissed, with the last six batters making only 28 runs between them.

Satterthwaite’s ton was her fourth in a row in ODIs.  New Zealand’s reply began well with a 58 run partnership between Rachel Priest and Suzie Bates.  When Priest was out Satterthwaite came in to make the match-winning knock.  She was ably supported by Bates (55), Katey Martin (43) and Katie Perkins (29).

Second ODI
Australia 256/6
New Zealand 253/8
Australia won by 4 wickets to level the series

Meg Lanning put New Zealand in and they started well with captain Bates making 35 before being dismissed.   All the batters made contributions with Satterthwaite again the pick, making 85 from 117 balls.

Amanda-Jade Wellington took three wickets and Elyse Perry was tight with 1/9 in the four overs she bowled.

In response Australia started well with Mooney again playing well to score 57.  They were going along quite nicely when 16-year old legspinner Amelia Kerr took two wickets in her first over, bowling Lanning for 44 and Villani for a first ball duck.  At this point Australia were 138/4.

But Alyssa Healey and Alex Blackwell pulled it back for the Aussies, producing a partnership of 81 off 85 balls.  Blackwell scored a timely 65 and Australia won with 16 balls to spare.

The impressive Kerr took 4/54.

The third and deciding game takes place on Sunday 5 March.

Off the Pitch

Australian international Sarah Coyte announced her retirement from all cricket this week at the age of 25.

Last year she retired from international cricket as she battled mental health issues.

“I am going home to Sydney to be close to my family and restore some balance to my life. I have been realising lately how much I have missed my family and it is finally time for me to go home,” she said in a statement.

Coyte admitted suffering from Anorexia while playing international cricket – a problem which led to her international retirement, but now she has gone one step further to quit all cricket.

She played for New South Wales and Adelaide Strikers.  As regards the Southern Stars she averaged 22 with the bat and 22.27 with the ball over 20 matches.

Cricket Australia chief executive, James Sutherland, said,

“On behalf of the board and everyone at Cricket Australia, we congratulate Sarah on a wonderful career, both internationally and domestically, and thank her for the wonderful contribution she has made to Australian cricket,”

And Finally

And finally, the Swedish women’s football team have removed their names from t he back of their shirts and replaced them with messages that “inspire and motivate women to show that everything is possible”.  The quotes are taken from famous Swedish women.

Captain, Lotta Schelin picked words from Swedish politician Gudrun Schyman:

“Never look down on someone unless it is to help her up”,

Other phrases include:

“Believe in your damn self”

“To try is to be successful.  The result is secondary as long as you dare”

“Women want different things”

It may be a gimmick or they may all believe in it with every fibre of their being, but whatever the story, it made me smile.

Women’s Sports Column 6-13 January 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Nearly half way through January already!  Plenty to get our teeth into this week with stories from hockey, tennis, football, cricket, rugby, winter sports and yet more awards.  This week’s “and finally” is a tricky one and I’ll leave you to form your own opinions.

Tennis

Johanna Konta has continued her good start to the season by winning the Apia International in Sydney.

She beat world number three, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-2 to take the final in straight sets.

She broke Radwanska in the third game of the match and hit 18 winners in the first set alone.  She went 4-0 up in the second and never looked like letting it slip, winning the match with an ace.

Without wishing to curse her, she looks in great form going into the Australian Open.  She has, however, got a tough opening match in the first grand slam of the year; she faces the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Laura Robson and Tara Moore have failed in their attempts to qualify for the Australian Open.  Both players lost in the first qualifying round.

Robson said she felt “flat” in losing in straight sets 6-2 6-4 to Amandine Hesse of France.

Moore was beaten 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 6-1 to Dalma Galfi of Hungary.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.  The top ten women’s seeds are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER)
  2. Serena Williams (USA)
  3.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
  4.  Simona Halep (ROU)
  5.  Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
  6.  Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
  7.  Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP)
  8.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
  9.  Johanna Konta (GBR)
  10.  Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP)

The date for Maria Sharapova’s comeback has been announced.  She will return at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on 26 April.

The tournament begins two days before her suspension ends and she will not be able to attend until the day of her first match.

Football

Kelly Smith

Biggest news of the week has to be the retirement from football of Arsenal and England striker Kelly Smith at the age of 38.

And what a playing career it was.  In 1999 she became Britain’s first female professional when she signed for American side New Jersey.

She won 117 England caps, scoring 46 goals.  She played in two World Cups and four European Championships.

She also had a prodigious career with Arsenal, winning five FA Cups in the process and in 2006-07 the UEFA Cup (now Champions League).

She was awarded an MBE in 2008 and was named FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

For the past two seasons she has been assisting manager Pedro Martinez Losa at Arsenal.  She is studying for her coaching badges and is looking to go into coaching as soon as she can.

One thing‘s for sure, you’ll never be able to keep her out of the game and the game would indeed be poorer without her.

She Believes Cup

The schedule for this year’s cup was announced this week.  England will play on the following dates:

France – 1 March (Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pennsylvania)

USA – 4 March (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey)

Germany – 7 March (RFK Stadium, Washington)

FA Cup

The FA Cup third round draw was made this week:

Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield FC
Aston Villa v Cambridge United
Millwall Lionesses v London Bees
Leicester City v Liverpool Marshall Feds
Keynsham Town v Durham
Coventry United v Oxford United
West Bromwich Albion v Lewes
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Watford
Derby County v Nottingham Forest
Brighouse Town v Everton
AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion

Ties will be played on 5 February.

Rugby Union

World Cup

The schedule for the World Cup, taking place in July in Ireland, has been announced.

Wednesday 9 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

England v Spain 2pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Ireland v Australia (7pm)

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Wales 2.55pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Canada v Hong Kong 5.15pm

Sunday 13 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

USA v Spain 2.45pm

Ireland v Japan 5.15pm

France v Australia 7.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Honk Kong 12 noon

England v Italy 2.30pm

Canada v Wales 5pm

Thursday 17 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

Italy v Spain 2.45pm

Wales v Hong Kong 17.15pm

France v Ireland 19.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

Canada v New Zealand 12 noon

England v USA 2.30pm

Australia v Japan 5pm

Tuesday 22 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Semi-finals 5pm and 7.45pm

Saturday 26 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Final 7.45pm

Women’s Premiership

Bristol lost their second game of the season at the weekend.  Their lead is now cut to one point – gained from the bonus point loss at Lichfield.  For a full report see WSUK.

8 January 2017

Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies
Postponed

Richmond 17-50 Aylesford

DMP Sharks 24-10 Worcester

Lichfield 15-12 Bristol

Winter Sports

Skiing

Lindsay Vonn is nearing her return to competition after breaking her arm nine weeks ago.

She will compete at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria on 14 January.

Over recent years Vonn has had to cope with several injuries.  She missed most of 2013 and 2014 with a knee injury.  She then fractured a knee again in February 2016.

Speed skating

Elise Christie has announced that she will not compete in the European Championships in Turin later this month.

She is going to use the extra time to prepare for the World Championships in March.

Christie won overall gold at the last European Championships and so will not be defending her title.

The European Championships begin on 13 January and the World Championships take place in Rotterdam from 10-12 March.

Cricket

The WBBL continues.  The current table is as follows:

played won lost points Net run- rate
Sydney Sixers 10 7 3 14 0.413
Hobart Hurricanes 10 5 4 11 -0.038
Melbourne Stars 10 5 5 10 0.342
Perth Scorchers 10 5 5 10 0.196
Brisbane Heat 10 5 5 10 -0.167
Sydney Thunder 10 4 5 8 -0.022
Adelaide Strikers 10 3 5 8 -0.249
Melbourne Renegades 10 4 6 7 -0.536

Indoor Hockey

The four semi-finalists of the Women’s Super 6s hockey have been decided.

Slough finished top with five wins from eight games and one loss.

Also through are Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury and Sutton Coldfield.

The finals take place on Sunday 29 January at the SSE Arena, Wembley.  Gates open at 10am and the action starts at 11am.

Outdoor Hockey

The third part of my history of women’s hockey was published by WiSP Sports this week.  You can read this and all my other pieces for WiSP here: www.wispsports.com

Laureas World Sports Awards

The Laureas shortlists were released this week.  Two female Britons made the lists:

Sportswoman of the Year award

Simone Biles (US) gymnastics, Allyson Felix (US) athletics, Angelique Kerber (Germany) tennis, Katie Ledecky (US) swimming, Elaine Thompson (Jamaica) athletics, Laura Kenny (GB) cycling.

Action Sportsperson of the Year award

Rachel Atherton (GB) mountain biking, Pedro Barros (Brazil) skateboarding, John John Florence (US) surfing, Chloe Kim (US) snowboarding, Kelly Sildaru (Estonia) freestyle skiing, Tyler Wright (Australia) surfing.

The winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be announced in Monaco on 14 February.

And finally,

In a survey by England Athletics, more than a third of 2,000 women surveyed said they had suffered some form of harassment when out jogging alone and more than 60% said they feel anxious while running on their own.

It has been suggested that an answer to this is to go out running in groups.  Now I see the value of this, I really do, but it’s not the answer.  There are plenty of benefits to be gained by running with others; the feeling of comradeship, someone to encourage you, making new friends, giving confidence, etc.  Women new to running would especially benefit.

England Athletics has put together a new programme called “Run Together”.  You can access the details here: www.englandatheltics.org

However, I would also point out that running in groups is not for everyone.  Some people run specifically to have time on their own.

And, of course, the real issue is that the women running should not have to change their habits due to the harassment.  Gone are the days (almost) when we say a woman was “asking for it” when they wear short skirts or drink too much.  So why is it the fault of the runner that they receive such abuse?  The harassers should surely change their attitudes and behaviour, not the runners?

I’ll leave it with you.

Apologies but there will be no column next week as I’m away.

Women’s Sports Column 3-9 December

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  Not so much in the way of results this week, plus lots of news from around the world.  It’s a truly global column this week as you’ll see.  So read on for stories from football, cricket, rugby, golf, netball, tennis, taekwondo, cycling, sailing and, wait for it, kabbadi!  Also an “And finally” guaranteed to make you say, “Not before time….”  Let’s crack on.

Firstly this week, it’s official, “This Girl Can” (as if we didn’t know this already).

Figures published by Sport England this week have revealed that the number of women playing sport regularly in England has reached an all-time high of 7.21m.

This is an increase of 250,000 on the figures before the “This Girl Can” campaign was launched in 2014.

The gap between men’s and women’s participation has narrowed to 1.55m.

This is obviously good news but is not reflected by the coverage given to women’s sport in the media, which is still at a woeful seven per cent.

Netball

England 57-64 Jamaica

I was there at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 4 December to see a tight, excellent game between two well-matched sides.

It was my first in-person experience of a netball international and I can thoroughly recommend it.  I must say hell hath no fury like a crowd of mainly young girls when their team is behind……

England were ahead by two after the first quarter.  Jamaica came back to lead at half-time by four.  During the third quarter the crowd really got behind the Roses, stamping and cheering for all they (we) were worth.  The Jamaican goalkeeper and captain Malysha Kelly incurred the crowd’s wrath as she repeatedly fouled Joanne Harten shooting for England and the game got a bit physical.  In fact I hadn’t seen that much bumping and boring in netball since I played goalkeeper for my school against our local convent school.

Anyway, the barracking worked as Jamaica had a loose period and England pressed.  It was all square going into the final quarter and the noise was deafening.

Unfortunately for England, they couldn’t maintain their form and Jamaica pulled away with the final score 57-64.  They also took the series 2-1.  Epic stuff.

Special mention must go to England’s defence, Ama Agbeze and Ebony Beckford-Chambers who had the unenviable task of marking the Sunshine Girls’ goal shooter, Jhaniele Fowler, who is just the six feet six inches tall.  And she jumped too (unlike Peter Crouch).

Hockey

Shameless piece of self-promotion, I’d like to tell you about my latest series for WiSP Sports.  This time I’m writing a four-part history of women’s field hockey.  The first part has just been published, so here’s the link:  History of Hockey part 1

Sailing with Abby Ehler

Team Magenta 32 is the second match racing team to receive their Tour Card for the World Match Racing Tour season 2017. Sally Barkow from USA is together with her all-female team preparing for their second full season and their challenge for the World Championship title in match racing.  Founded in 1999, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the world’s leading professional sailing series. It features world class sailors and Olympic champions, with tour events staged around the globe.  Each stage, or World Championship event, now takes place in identically supplied one-design M32 high-performance catamarans to place the focus on teamwork and skill.

British professional sailors Dee Caffari and Hannah Diamond are this week working with Oman Sail to train and prepare 2 all-female Middle East teams for next year’s Sailing Tour of Arabia.

Since 2008 Oman Sail has been running sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani women and men. EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is contested in a fleet of identical Farr 30 yachts – one of the most exciting boats on the professional sailing circuit – along a course, which stretches each crew to the full, testing their skill, teamwork and versatility.

In its short history, EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has gained global recognition, attracting top amateur and professional sailors from four continents and blue-chip sponsors. Now in its seventh year, The Tour has become one of the most respected and dynamic sailing regattas on the international circuit.

Mike Slade’s British Maxi Leopard 3 crossed the finish line in, Grenada at recently to take Monohull Line Honours and win the International Maxi Association (IMA) Trophy for the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race.  The Maxi yacht was navigated by Britain’s Libby Greenhalgh, the only women in the crew of 17.  Libby Greenhalgh was the navigator onboard Team SCA in the last Volvo Ocean Race, and it is fantastic to see her continuing in that role at the elite level of the sport.

Football

Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria won their eighth Cup of Nations this week with a 1-0 victory over hosts Cameroon, in front of a 40,000 crowd in Yaounde.

Desire Oparanozie scored the only goal late in the game to ensure Nigeria retained the trophy they won in Namibia in 2014.

Cameroon were runners-up for the second tournament in succession.

Ghana finished third after they beat South Africa 1-0 in the bronze medal match on Friday.

In a further development, the Nigerian squad refused to leave their hotel in Abuja until they were paid allowances and bonuses for winning the Cup.

The total owed to each player amounts to $23,650 per player.

More details in next week’s column.

Chelsea

Chelsea Ladies have signed Swiss international striker Ramona Bachmann until 2019. She will join the Blues in January 2017 when the transfer window opens.  All the early signs are that Chelsea will be the big spenders (relatively speaking) going into the new season.

Women in Football Awards

On Tuesday I attended the Women in Football Awards, which were held at the BBC TV Centre in London.

It was a night not without its hitches, but discretion forbids me from saying more….

The awards were given as follows:

Woman of Inspiration Award: Lucy Oliver
Journalist of the Year: Amy Lawrence
Club Best Practice Award: Susan Whelan (Leicester City)
Coach of the Year: Kelly Chambers (Reading LFC)
Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze
Performance of the Year: Scotland Women for qualifying for 2017 Euros
Referee of the Year: Mary Harmer
Women in Football Business Award: Amy O’Brien (Fulham FC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sylvia Gore
Woman of the Year: Dr Eva Carneiro

Kabaddi

Pakistan will be holding its first ever women’s Kabaddi National Championships in Lahore this December.

At least seven clubs are expected to take part including Islamabad, WAPDA, Higher Education Committee and the Pakistan Army.

The tournament starts on 14 December.

Pakistan Kabaddi Federation Secretary, Muhammad Sarwar is excited about the move:

“The event is a huge step forward.  We want to encourage girls to develop an interest in the sport and even represent the national side in the future,” he said.

Taekwondo

Jade Jones will be part of the British taekwondo team that is taking part at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix finals in Baku on Saturday.

The other women in the team are Bianca Walkden, Rachelle Booth and Charlie Maddock.

Cycling

The BBC revealed this week that British Cycling only found its former technical director Shane Sutton guilty on one of the charges laid against him by cyclist Jess Varnish.

He was found guilty of using the word “bitches” to Varnish but eight other charges were dismissed including Varnish’s key complaint that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby.”

Sutton was also cleared of using any other offensive or discriminatory language and all bullying allegations.

Varnish has responded to the report with shock.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I am shocked and upset by this latest news and have instructed my solicitor to appeal against the findings of the internal investigation on my behalf.

“Having provided substantial evidence to back up my complaints, to now learn that the majority were not upheld is heartbreaking. I know what was said, and I know I’ve told the truth.

“I have requested from British Cycling the full investigation report to understand why the weight of evidence provided by me and others wasn’t sufficient for the board to uphold my complaints.”

Unfortunately, this story shows no sign of ending, with both sides unhappy with the results and British Cycling’s reputation taking a battering.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

Well it didn’t take long for former England captain Charlotte Edwards to announce her next move.  She has joined Hampshire.  She already sits as a non-executive director with Hampshire and Southern Vipers, so this clearly fits into the plan.

It will be a different experience for Edwards who is used to winning County Championships with Kent as Hampshire play in division two.

I surmise she will move into a coaching role once she finally hangs up her boots, but currently she clearly has an on-field contribution to make.

She will also be playing for the Adelaide Strikers in the upcoming WBBL.

Women’s Big Bash League

And talking of which, the WBBL starts this weekend.

The opening fixtures are:

10 December

Hobart Hurricanes v Perth Scorchers
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades
Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars

11 December

Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers
Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes
Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat

There are plenty of England players in action:

Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont are at the Strikers, the Hurricanes have England captain Heather Knight, Danni Wyatt is at the Renegades and the Stars have Dani Hazell and Nat Sciver.  Becky Grundy comes in for Anya Shrubsole until 29 December and will play alongside Katherine Brunt at the Perth Scorchers.

If you have access to BT Sport keep an eye out as they are covering some of the matches.

Women’s cricket in Bangladesh

This is a great initiative.  Please read this piece on developing women’s cricket in Bangladesh.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/04/breaking-boundaries-bangladesh-women-cricketers-charity

Rugby Union

Bristol were back to winning ways at the weekend.  The scores were as follows:

Lichfield Ladies 75-17 Wasps Ladies
DMP Sharks 15-29 Aylesford Bulls Ladies
Richmond Women 10-52 Saracens Women
Bristol Ladies 34-10 Worcester Valkyries

For a more in-depth report see here

Golf

Dubai Ladies Masters

After two rounds of the Dubai Masters, there are two English players at the top of the leaderboard.  Top is Felicity Johnson on -7 with Florentyna Parker two behind on -5.  Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and Aditi Ashok of India are tied in third on -4.

Charley Hull is tied 23 on -1.

Tennis

There will be three women in the main draw of the Australian Open in January.  They are Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady.  It was at the 2016 tournament that Konta made her first appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final.  Let’s hope she can repeat this form in 2017.

And finally,

Three cheers for the Government of South Australia which this week decided to withdraw its support for the hideous tradition of “podium girls” at the 2017 Tour Down Under.

You will have seen them – I’m not going to produce images – of scantily clad young women doing nothing much but providing “window dressing” for the presentation parties at cycling events.  And not before time, at least at this event, they will be no more.

Instead there will be a number of junior cyclists helping to present the prizes.

The same authority has already withdrawn its funding of “grid girls” at the Clipsal 500 motor race.

Let’s hope that’s the kick that other governments/governing bodies need.

Women’s Sports Column 26 November – 2 December

sarah-storeyWelcome to this week’s column.  Yet again there’s a lot to get through, so here we go.  This week’s stories come from hockey, tennis, football, rugby, sevens, boxing, netball, cricket, cycling and to match last week’s Action Woman shortlist, this week we look at the women shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  This week’s “And finally” comes from tennis, and the ever-inspirational Serena Williams.

Hockey

I am the first to admit that I do not follow hockey with any diligence.  Consequently it appears only rarely in the column.  This didn’t stop me getting practically hysterical during the Olympic final, but I do realise that I should do more for this under-reported sport.

This is a shout-out to Martin, who regularly reminds me of my lack of hockey knowledge and coverage.

Premier League

On 26 November Surbiton Ladies beat second-placed Holcome 4-1 which meant they are unbeaten in 50 Premier League matches.

Surbiton’s last defeat was at home to Leicester in February 2014.

Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup

The World Cup takes place between 24 November and 4 December in Santiago, Chile.  Sixteen countries are involved, including England.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  England lost in the quarter-finals to Spain.  The quarter-final results were as follows:

Netherlands 5-0 Germany

Spain 5-3 England

Spain’s goals came from Garcia, Iglesias (2), Amundson, Serrahima

England’s goals came through Sanders, Crowson (2)

Argentina 2-0 USA

Australia 7-2 Belgium

The semi-finals are to be played on 2 December with the final on Sunday 4 December.

 And don’t forget, the full Women’s World Cup will be held in London from 7-21 July, 2018.  Tickets go on sale in 2017, so keep an eye out for that. 

 Football

 Netherlands 0-1 England

Tilburg 29 November 2016

 England’s unbeaten run now stands at 10 matches with this friendly win in Tilburg.

The first-half was tight but produced few chances.

The second-half saw an England improvement and the match was decided by a Jodie Taylor lob with 15 minutes to go.

 Under 20s Women’s World Cup

Semi-finals

North Korea 2-1 USA

(after extra time)

 

Japan 1-2 France

(after extra time)

The final will take place on 3 December.

Netball

The three-match test series between the England Roses and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls is underway.

 29 November

Copper Box Arena London

 England 49-66

According to reports, Tracy Neville was furious with this England performance and they will need to improve in the next two to get anything at all from the series.

England were 16-12 up after the first quarter, but by half-time they were down 31-27.  After the half-time break Jamaica seemed t o go up a gear and stretched away to take the game.

The second game is at Belle Vue in Manchester on Friday 2 December, with the third on Sunday 4 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.  I’ll be there for the third game, so look out for a more detailed report next week.

Rugby Union

The big news from last weekend’s matches is the first defeat of the season for Bristol as they were thumped by Aylesford Bulls, but second placed Lichfield also slip up and miss out on the chance to close the gap.

26 November 2016

Saracens Women 27-0 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women

27 November 2016

Aylesford bulls Ladies 51-5 Bristol Ladies

Wasps Ladies 34-22 DMP Sharks Ladies

For a more in-depth report, please see my latest for Women’s Sports UK.

Rugby Sevens

The Dubai Sevens took place on 1-2 December

England

England reached the semi-finals.  They won their first match 31-7 against Spain and the second against Brazil, 28-7.  In the third, Canada took the honours 24-12.

In the quarter-finals they faced Fiji, producing and excellent display to win 19-17.  England scored first through a Fisher try which was not converted by Watmore.  Tinai made it 5-5 but was unable to add the extras.  In the second half Fiji took the lead with a try from A M Roqica, but the conversion was missed.  Nagasau made it 15-5 in the 12th minute and this was converted by Tinai.  But England were not to be outdone.  Tries from Richardson and Watmore and two conversions took the score to 19-17 and a semi-final against favourites, Australia.

Australia took the semi-final 31-10.  Two minutes in England were behind through a try from Caslick, which was converted by Dalton.  Brown struck back for England, but Richardson was unable to convert.  Then Tonegato scored for Australia, but Cherry missed the conversion and at half-time it was 5-12 to Australia.  Straight after the break the Aussies scored again, this time through Penitani.   The conversion was missed, but not long after Penitani scored her second try, this time complete with the extra two points from Cherry and the score was 5-24.  England’s fate was sealed when Brennan went in again, although the conversion was missed.  England had the last word with a try from Murphy, converted by Dalton to take the final score to 10-31.

In the Bronze Final England faced Russia.  Russia won 17-14 to take third place.  Zdrokova began the scoring in the second minute with a try, but Kudinova couldn’t convert.   Zdrokova went over for her second just before half-time, again unconverted to take the score to 10-0 to Russia at the break.  In the second-half Brennan scored a try for England which was converted by Richardson.  Then Russia scored again, this time through Mikhaltsova, converted by Kudiniova.  England managed one more try from Fleming, converted by Cattell, but the game was gone.

 

Ireland

Ireland lost their first game 27-5 to New Zealand and their second, 24-14 to France.   They came back with an excellent 17-17 draw against Fiji.

They played USA in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, winning it 28-5.

And they won the final 14-12 against Spain.  Spain took the lead in the final with a try from Garcia which she also converted.  They went 12-0 up in the seventh minute through Casado, but Garcia missed the extras.  The second-half was a different matter as Ireland fought hard to get back into it.  Williams scored a try two minutes in, which was converted by Mulhall.  Then Mulhall went over for Ireland’s second to level it at 12-12 and then she put over the conversion to put them in the lead, and to secure the Challenge Trophy.

Dubai Women’s Sevens Final

New Zealand 17-5 Australia

New Zealand came out on top in the gold medal match in Dubai.

New Zealand took the lead with a try from Woodman after two minutes.  Nathan-Wong missed the conversion.  Just one minute later Cordero-Tufuga went over again, but again it went unconverted.  Australia came back into with a try through Cherry but Sykes missed the conversion.  But New Zealand were not finished and a second from Cordero-Tufuga, this time converted by Nathan-Wong saw New Zealand take the title 17-5.

Round Two of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be in Sydney on 3-4 February 2017.

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s professional career got off to a perfect start on Saturday when she stopped her Polish opponent, Karina Kopinska in the third round.

Her second bout will be against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf on 10 December in Manchester.  Obenauf has only suffered one defeat in ten contests and should provide a much stiffer test for Taylor.

Tennis

Anne Keothavong has been appointed GB Fed Cup captain and senior national women’s coach.

She takes over from Judy Murray as Fed Cup captain.

GB begins its Fed Cup campaign in Estonia in February 2017.

 

In a surprise move, Johanna Konta has split with her coach of two years, Esteban Carill.

2016 has been Konta’s breakthrough year, a year in which she won her first WTA Tour title at Stanford and reached a career-high world ranking of ten.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

The big cricket news this week is undoubtedly the announcement that former England captain, Charlotte Edwards, is to leave Kent.

In a press release issued by Kent CCC Edwards is quoted,

“I would like to thank everyone at Kent County Cricket Club for all their support over the past 18 years. I’m immensely proud to have played for the county and what the team has achieved within that time.

“Kent is very much seen as one of the leading counties within the women’s game due to it consistently producing players to the England Pathway.

“It’s been a really tough decision to leave Kent but ultimately I feel it’s the right decision for me and more importantly the current team. Having won the double in 2016 I feel this is a fitting end to my time as a Kent cricketer.”

Edwards joined Kent in 2000 and with them has won seven County Championships.

Her personal record speaks for itself.  In her Kent career she played 136 matches and scored 6,164 runs at an average of 61.64.  She made 40 half-centuries and 14 centuries.

She also took 124 wickets at an average of 17.51 and claimed 81 catches.

Edwards will, undoubtedly, stay in cricket and it remains to be seen just what her next move will be.

Cycling

Bad news this week from Dame Sarah Storey.  You may remember that it was only in June that I attended the launch of Storey’s all-women Podium Ambition team at Café Ventoux in Leicestershire.

It was expected that the café would be the base for the 2017 season, but after just one season the team has had to disband due to lack of sponsorship funding.  In an interview with The Mixed Zone Storey says,

“We have been unable to secure sufficient cash input to remain a UCI-registered team. We spent the last 12 months searching for a title sponsor to start with us from 2017, but despite many brands being interested, there was nothing concrete in place in time for the deadline to register the team again.

“Barney and I spent 2016 covering the lion’s share of the budget ourselves and without that money in our savings now, we don’t have a back-up. The cost of running even a small UCI team is significant and we weren’t going to continue struggling.”

It is well worth reading the whole article, so here’s the link.

The news is unbelievably disappointing.  At the launch there was a good deal of optimism and good will. Chris Boardman was there with his bikes and the team looked good.  But unfortunately, it’s just another example of the woeful levels of corporate investment in women’s sport.  And the scary thing is that if some of the biggest names in the sport, Dame Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Chris Boardman, can’t attract sponsorship, what chance does any lesser, but aspiring name have? 

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016

In what has been a stellar year for sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is 16-strong.   There are six women on the list:

Nicola Adams (Boxing)

Sophie Christiansen (Equestrian)

Kadeena Cox (Athletics and cycling)

Laura Kenny (Cycling)

Kate Richardson-Walsh (Hockey)

Dame Sarah Storey (Cycling)

The public vote for this award via telephone during the live show on 18 December.

 

In the Young Personality of the Year award the shortlist is 10.  Out of these, eight are women/girls:

Ellie Downie (Gymnastics and winner of the 2015 award)

Sophie Ecclestone (Cricket)

Ellie Robinson (Swimming)

Lauren Rowles (Rowing)

Georgia Stanway (Football)

Jess Stretton (Archery)

Rebekah Tiler (Weight lifting)

Amy Tinkler (Gymnastics)

This award is decided by expert panel.

 

And Finally, Serena Williams has written an open letter in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue.  In it she re-iterates her themes of equality and fairness.

The Guardian has reprinted the letter:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/29/dream-big-open-letter-serena-williams-porter-magazine-incredible-women-of-2016-issue-women-athletes

The first two responses in the comments section are:

“Jason Stoltenberg was a much better tennis player than Serena Williams. Williams would struggle to get a couple of games off him. But Williams has made much more money than Stoltenberg.  What’s her beef?”

‘My dream was to be the best tennis player in the world.’  Well she quite clearly failed in that regard. She wouldn’t even beat the 200th-ranked male tennis player. Why does she continue trotting out this garbage? She should be happy with what she’s achieved.”

Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is the standard in a “quality” newspaper.  Needless to say quite a few responses have been removed by the moderator, and many others are worse than those listed.  Missing the point?  Er, yes, just slightly.  The world should be grateful for women like Serena speaking up, telling her story and making her case.  In the twenty-first century any woman speaking out is still met with hostility, cynicism and scorn.  I’m happy to post the link to this letter and encourage all of you to read it.

 

Women’s Sports Column 29 October – 4 November

gambia-goalkeeper

Welcome to this week’s column.  As usual there are plenty of great stories and good news out there this week, but I start with a crushingly awful story – something I never thought I’d have to write.  And it’s back to the sexist rubbish we all have to put up with for this week’s “And finally” to send you all off in a good mood!

Let’s crack on.  Stories this week from football, rugby, Fast5 netball, ice hockey, golf, cricket, cycling, tennis and speed skating.

Fatim Jawara

This week it was announced that the goalkeeper of the Gambia’s women’s national side died crossing the Mediterranean on a migration boat from Libya.  More than 3,300 migrants have died in this crossing in 2016.

Jawara, who was just 19, made her debut in 2015 in a friendly against a team from Glasgow.

According to UN figures, 60% of the population of the Gambia live in poverty and a third live on $1.25 or less a day.

While we in Britain campaign for better pay in sport for women, we should perhaps remember that Britain’s women are in clover compared to others throughout the world.  This doesn’t mean we should stop campaigning, but perhaps sometimes we should take a wider view.  Mind you, perhaps those male footballers who “live” on hundreds of thousands of pounds a week should also think about it too.

Football

We now know that it’s Yeovil and Bristol Academy who will be promoted to FAWSL1 next season.

London Bees 2-0 Yeovil Ladies

The Lady Glovers secured promotion at the London Bees at the weekend with a 2-0 win.  They still have the chance to win the title, but at the moment have to be satisfied with the fact they will be playing in WSL1 next season.

After a goalless first half, Yeovil took the lead in the 56th minute through Kayleigh Green.  They doubled their lead ten minutes from the end with a goal from Nadia Lawrence.

All teams have just one game to go and it is between Yeovil and Bristol Academy for the title.  At the moment the Somerset side are top on goal difference.

WSL1

Arsenal Ladies 2-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

It was also a goalless first half at Boreham Wood, although Arsenal were always in control.  The deadlock was finally broken in the 65th minute when Jodie Taylor finished from close range.  She got her second eight minutes later to seal the win for the home side.

Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies

WSL1 champions, Manchester City drew in their last match to ensure they went through the season unbeaten.

Birmingham took the lead in the sixth minute through an Aoife Mannion penalty after Andrine Hegerberg was brought down in the box by Lucy Bronze.

It took Manchester City until the 54th minute to equalise when Demi Stokes hit the top corner.

Chelsea Ladies 3-2 Reading Women

Chelsea have ensured they will finish as runners-up in WSL1, securing their Champions’ League place in the process.

Eni Aluko scored Chelsea’s first and Ana Borges doubled the lead before Lauren Bruton pulled one back from the penalty spot.

Aluko scored a second from close range to take the Blues 3-1 up.  Melissa Fletcher got Reading’s second in second-half stoppage time, but it was merely a consolation.

Off the pitch

FiFA has announced the shortlist for Women’s Player of the Year.  No British representation, but an impressive line-up.

Camile Abily (FRA)

Melanie Behringer (GER)

Sara Däbritz (GER)

Amandine Henry (FRA)

Saki Kumagai (JPN)

Carli Lloyd (USA)

Dzsenifer Marozsán (GER)

Marta (BRA)

Lotta Schelin (SWE)

Christine Sinclair (CAN)

Rugby Union

It was round seven of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol won yet again, but it was another thumping defeat for Wasps.

29/10/16

Worcester Valkyries 12-34 Lichfield Ladies

DMP Sharks 20-28 Richmond Women

30/10/16

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 59-0 Wasps Ladies

Bristol Ladies 27-5 Saracens Women

For more details of these games please see my report for Women’s Sports UK.

Netball

The Fast5 World Series was won by New Zealand last weekend as they beat Australia 41-16 in the Grand Final at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne.  The hosts were unbeaten after the league stage, but New Zealand were too strong for the Aussies in the final to take the trophy for the sixth time.

The league table finished:

PL W D L PTS
Australia 5 5 0 0 10
New Zealand 5 4 0 1 8
England 5 2 1 2 5
Malawi 5 2 0 3 4
Jamaica 5 1 0 4 2
South Africa 5 0 1 4 1

 England will be happy with their performance.  They beat Malawi 43-22 and Jamaica 32-19 in the group games.  They only lost by a point to New Zealand, but they lost their second game against Malawi, the play-off, 32-35.

Ice Hockey

Great Britain’s women have never qualified for the Winter Olympics.  Now they are just three stages away from qualification for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They are currently playing in a qualifying series in Kazakhstan in a round-robin tournament against the home side, Mexico and Poland.

In the first match they came from two goals down to win 3-2.

Kimberley Lane pulled the first goal back midway through the third period.  Saffron Allen levelled the game with just 81 seconds left on the clock and Angela Taylor scored again with a minute to go to clinch the win.

GB couldn’t reproduce this form in the second game as they went down to Poland 3-4.

Schedule:

Thursday, 3 November

Great Britain 3-2 Mexico

Kazakhstan 1-4 Poland

Friday, 4 November

Great Britain 3-4 Poland

Kazakhstan v Mexico

Sunday, 6 November

Mexico v Poland

Kazakhstan v Great Britain

Cycling

On the track

This weekend the Track World Cup takes place in Glasgow.

Katie Archibald will be looking to continue the good form she showed at the European Track Championships in Paris last month.

Archibald will race alongside Emily Kay, Danni Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson in the endurance events, but there will be no female sprinters competing.

Off the track

Big news from British Cycling this week as they announced that its ex-technical director, Shane Sutton, was indeed guilty of using sexist language towards Jess Varnish.

Varnish alleged that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby” as he was not going to select her for the world class programme.

The British Cycling Board found that Sutton “used inappropriate and discriminatory language”.

It’s a case that has split British cycling.  Victoria Pendleton backed Varnish in her claims while Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins expressed scepticism at the alleged comments.

Sutton has suggested that he will appeal the decision.

“I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made,”

he said.

Golf

After two rounds of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi the leaderboard stands as follows:

-13 O Kristinsdottir (Ice); -10 G Hall (Eng), G Nocera (Fr), B Allen (US), H Clyburn (Eng)

Georgia Hall is currently lying in joint second largely due to her second round course record of 64.  It was a round that contained eight birdies.

Speed Skating

The speed-skating World Cup begins in Calgary on 4 November.

Top British speed-skater Elise Christie will be hoping that she has a better experience than she had at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 when she was disqualified three times.

Last season she won races at the World Cup and in Europe.

She took some time out of training this week to speak to the BBC about her preparation for Calgary. She has been trying out new ideas including racing against men to improve her overtaking skills in the face of greater power.

The GB women’s squad comprises Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson, Jennifer Pickering, Samantha Morrison and Hannah Morrison.Top of Form

Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova has taken the end of season WTA Finals title in Singapore.

She beat world number one Angelique Kerber in the final 6-3 6-4.

She had lost to Kerber at the round-robin stage – in fact she only won one game from three, but she secured her place in the final with a three set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday.

Meanwhile in Zhuhai, China the top 12 players who didn’t qualify for Singapore are playing in the WTA Elite Trophy.

The players are divided into four pools of three with the woman finishing top of each group going through to the semi-finals.

Britain’s Johanna Konta confirmed her semi-final place this morning after beating Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-2 in her final round-robin match.

She will play Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Saturday while the other semi-final will be between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and home favourite Zhang Shuai.

All games are shown live on BT Sport.

Cricket

England pace bowlers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt have signed up for the WBBL.  They will both play for Perth Scorchers.

Former England captain Charlotte Edwards has already signed for the Adelaide Strikers, while current England captain Heather Knight will play a second time for Hobart Hurricanes.

The tournament begins in December and will, according to its website, be covered by BT Sport.

England Performance Pathway

This week the ECB announced the restructuring of the women’s performance pathway.  Over 120 players will be involved at some level and the system will now comprise four elements:

  • England Women’s Squad – run by England Women’s Head Coach, Mark Robinson and Assistant Coach, Alastair Maiden, New central contracts will be announced by the end of 2016.
  • England Women’s Senior Academy – John Stanworth will take up the new role of Head Coach of the England Women’s Senior Academy. 19 players have been selected from 13 counties for the Senior Academy programme, which will be based at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough.
  • England Women’s Academy – Loughborough Lightning coach Salliann Briggs will lead the Academy programme for emerging talent, which is also based at Loughborough. Centre. 17 players from 10 counties have been selected for the Academy.
  • Regional Development Centres – six Regional Development Centres will be directly aligned to the Kia Super League structure, providing a local base for young players to gain experience.

And finally,

Harvard University, that esteemed seat of learning, has had to suspend its men’s soccer team after it was found that its members had been making copious notes about their female counterparts, not about their footballing talent, but a ratings system based on their attractiveness and what sexual positions they thought the players would prefer.

The men’s team, currently lying top of the Ivy League, will now forfeit the rest of its games for the season.

It seems that this ratings document was not a one-off but a tradition stretching back to 2012.

In the University newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, the female players made a statement saying they were

“appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.

“More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives.”

And so say all of us.

However, the men’s coach Pieter Lehrer did not seem to condemn his players but rather concentrated on the fact that his team would now miss out on a possible title.  He said that the team was,

“beyond disappointed that our season has ended in this way, but we respect the decision made by our administration”.

Hardly a damning indictment of their reprehensible conduct……

 

Women’s Sports Column 22-28 October

mount-everest-413_640

It’s that time again – more women’s sports news than you can shake a stick at.   This week we have stories from cycling, cricket, football, tennis, rugby, horse racing, boxing and golf.  Also some sad news in “And finally”, but hopefully it will also give us the chance to recognise some particular achievements from a very particular woman.

Cycling

There were more medals for Britain’s women in the European Track Championships in Paris.  The day two tally stood at three.

Katie Archibald won two golds to add to her silver in the elimination race.  In the individual pursuit she finished four seconds ahead of her opponent, Justyna Kaczkowska, from Poland

She had already posted a personal best in qualifying.

Then she won her second gold in two nights as she took the omnium title with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild in second and Lottie Kopecky from Belgium in third.

Emily Kay and Emily Nelson won silver in the Madison.  They lay fourth with just 10 laps to go when they took maximum points in the final sprint to take the silver.  The winners were Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore of Belgium.

In other events Elinor Barker finished fifth in the points race, but Rachel James fell in the final of the keirin.

Horse racing

 Josephine Gordon has become only the third woman to become Champion Apprentice jockey.

But it’s good to see her ambitions do not rest there.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I think in the next 15 years there will be a woman who becomes champion jockey,

“Hopefully it will be me. At this time, it’s probably quite unrealistic for me but that would be the biggest dream. I didn’t think I could achieve being champion apprentice.”

Female winners of the Champion Apprentice Jockey:

2005 Hayley Turner (tied with Saleem Golam) – 44 wins

2012 Amy Ryan – 40 wins

2016 Josephine Gordon – 50 wins

Football

Scottish football

Glasgow City Ladies have been crowned Scottish Women’s Premier league champions for the tenth successive season.

They only needed a point to ensure the title stayed at the Excelsior Stadium, but it was clear they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a win.  This they accomplished, defeating Hibernian Ladies 3-1.  Sarah Crilly opened the scoring after ten minutes and the lead was doubled when Savannah McCarthy headed a second.

Claire Shine put the tie past Hibs with the third before the away side pulled back a consolation goal through Siobhan Hunter.

Glasgow City could still make it a league and cup double when they face Hibs again in the Scottish Cup final on 6 November.

 Scotland 0-7 Netherlands

Scotland began their warm-ups for next year’s Euros with a crushing defeat against Netherlands in a friendly at Livingston.

Bayern Munich striker Vivianne Miedema got the first, but there were no further scores until first-half stoppage time when first Lineth Beerensteyn and then Miedema with her second put the visitors 3-0 up going into the break.

It was more of the same in the second-half with Scotland rarely venturing up the field.  On 66 minutes Netherlands made it four when Renee Slegers poked in, and then it was five through Ellen Jansen.

Scottish goalkeeper, Shannon Lynn was injured in the scoring of the fifth and had to be substituted with Gemma Fay taking over.

But things did not improve as the Netherlands put another two past the home side, Shanice van de Sanden scoring the sixth and Jackie Groenen the seventh to make it a thoroughly miserable night for the Scots.

 English football

By contrast, the Lionesses have seen their unbeaten run stretch to nine matches with two decent performances in friendlies against France and Spain this week.

 England 0-0 France

England knew the visitors would provide a tough test and so it transpired.  It was a tight first half of few chances, with England’s Lucy Bronze having the best, but she headed wide from a free kick.

The second half was equally tense with both defences on top and neither able to break the deadlock.  Toni Duggan did put the ball in the net but was adjudged to have used her hand in the build-up.

It was a good defensive display, but up front England lacked bite.  France were not fielding a full-strength team and Mark Sampson will be aware that, certainly in attack, France will be much more of threat in the Championships next summer.

 Spain 1-2 England

Spain may some way below England in the world rankings, but they are always a tough opponent, particularly at home.

England took the lead when a shot (or possible cross) from Karen Carney was deflected into the net by Marta Torrejon Moya.

England captain Steph Houghton then curled in a peach of a free-kick to double the lead.

Torrejon pulled one back, but England held on for the win.

Off the Pitch

Arsenal Ladies have announced that their three Spanish players, striker Natalia and midfielders Marta Corredera and Vicky Losada, are to leave the club at the end of the season.

Corredera has signed for Atletico Madrid, but both Losada and Natalia have not yet revealed their new clubs, although Natalia said on social media that she was looking for a new challenge in Madrid.

Losada and Corredera had been at Arsenal for just one season, while Natalia signed from Bristol Academy in December 2014.

The FA has announced it aims to double the number of women involved in football by the end of the decade.

FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, announced that the women’s game is the “prime candidate” for investment.

There is due to be a statement on an FA Cup TV deal worth more than £800m over six years.

The FA also helps that moving the FAWSL from summer to winter will improve coverage and gates.

My favourite line of the interview is with reference to England’s third place at the 2015 World Cup

“Unusually for an England team, we overperformed at a tournament.”

For that sentence alone I applaud the FA’s thinking.  But, and I’ve said this many times before, the announcements, initiatives and money have to be backed up with ongoing support.

He says all the right things; breaking down barriers, changing perceptions, getting support from parents and clubs, but the talk is not enough.

I implore the FA not to just fling money at the situation and hope that some of it sticks – back up your monetary input with time, personnel, expertise and anything else women’s football needs to actually come through with the targets.  Don’t expect money alone to do the job.

Cricket

The England squad for the Sri Lanka tour has been announced.

There is a recall for middle-order batter Fran Wilson.  Sophie Ecclestone is unavailable due to school commitments and Anya Shrubsole is still recovering from her neck injury and is not included.

Before they reach Colombo the squad will be in Abu Dhabi for a six day training camp that will also include some of the England Senior Academy.

England will play four ODIs in Sri Lanka, the final three of which will count towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

England squad:

Heather Knight, captain (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Middlesex)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Beth Langston (Yorkshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Danielle Wyatt (Sussex)

Additional player for Abu Dhabi camp

Georgia Adams (Sussex)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Alice-Davidson-Richards (Kent)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)

Sri Lanka fixtures:

9 November – 1st ODI (Sinhalese Sports Club)
12 November – 2nd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
15 November – 3rd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
17 November – 4th ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium

South Africa v New Zealand series

At the point of last week’s column, New Zealand had taken an unassailable 4-1 lead with two games to go.  Here’s what happened in the last two matches:

22 October Paarl

South Africa pulled one back in the sixth game in Paarl.  In a rain-affected game reduced to 39 overs, South Africa won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat.  This proved to be a good decision as they skittled out the tourists for 130 in 33.3 overs.  Katey Martin provided sole resistance with 65 not out with Masabata Klaas taking 3/32 off eight overs and Moseline Daniels and Odine Kirsten two each.

South Africa replied in sensible fashion and reached their target with eight balls to spare.  Top scorer was Mignon du Preez with 44 and South Africa won by five wickets.

24 October Paarl

New Zealand were not to be outdone though and won the seventh match in Paarl by 126 runs.  Suzie Bates won the toss and batted.  They posted an excellent 273/7 off their 50 overs with Katey Martin again starring with 81.  She was well supported by Amy Satterthwaite with 53 and Maddy Green with 46.

This was too stiff a target for South Africa to chase and they were all out for 147 in 45.5 overs.  Joint top scorers were Lizelle Lee and Odine Kirsten with 22.  The bowling damage was done by Erin Bermingham with 3/18 off 10 with Lea Tahuhu 2/36 off 7 and Satterthwaite 2/15 off 4.5.

New Zealand took the series 5-2.

Tennis

WTA Finals in Singapore

We now know three of the four quarter-finalists in the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the red group Angelique Kerber has finished top with three wins from three, with Dominika Cibulkova in second.

In the white group Svetlana Kuznetsova has qualified with the final place to be decided between Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova, who play each other in the last round robin game on Friday.

Semi-final line-up

Kuznetsova v Cibulkova

Kerber v Radwanska or Pliskova

Off the court

British number one, Johanna Konta, has won the WTA award for Most Improved Player 2016.  It has indeed been a breakthrough year for Konta; reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and then winning her first WTA Tour title at Stanford in June.

Her rise through the rankings has been marked; in 2015 she was at 147 in the world.  This year she has made it has high as ninth and is currently tenth.

The WTA Player of the Year award went to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.  She is currently world number one and won her first and second Grand Slams (Australian and US) this year.  She won a silver medal at Rio and was runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

In other news, Maria Sharapova has been excluded from the WTA singles rankings as she has not competed in enough tournaments in 2016 to be eligible for a ranking.

She will return to the rankings after she has served her ban and has played three tournaments next year.

Boxing

Irish boxer Katie Taylor will make her professional boxing debut in November.

She has signed a professional contract with Matchroom boxing and will appear at the SSE Arena, Wembley on 26 November.

The fight will be live on Sky Sports.

Taylor has been considering her options for some time after failing to win an Olympic medal in Rio.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said,

“Today marks a significant day for our sport with the news that Katie is joining the professional ranks,

“She is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time and a public icon in Ireland. I met Katie for the first time last week and was fascinated by her desire to not just win world titles but to break down the barriers of women’s boxing; she is an incredible role model.”

Golf

Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After leading from the off, Australian Minjee Lee duly took the title at the Blue Bay tournament at the weekend.   She carded a final round 70 to finish on -13, winning by just one shot from USA’s Jessica Korda.

Third was Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, with her compatriot Pornanong Phatlum tying with Caroline Masson of Germany for fourth.

Britain’s Charley Hull finished a further place back in sixth on -5.

Rugby Union

It was round six of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol are looking nigh-on invincible as they won again, but the chasing pack haven’t given up as the weekend saw wins for second placed Lichfield and another big win for Worcester Valkyries who lie in third.

Results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 19-66 Worcester Valkyries
Richmond Women 27-33 Bristol Ladies
Lichfield Ladies 42-16 DMP Sharks
Saracens Women 15-31 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

For a more detailed review of last weekend’s game please read my report for WSUK here.

New Zealand Black Ferns 67-3 Australia Wallaroos

This is a massive result, and not just by number of points for New Zealand as they continue to dominate their antipodean neighbours.

They scored 11 tries to nil in their 14th consecutive victory over the Wallaroos.

Full back Selica Winiata scored four tries and Kendra Cocksedge a try and four conversions.  The Kiwis were 31-3 up at half-time and there was no way back.

Ash Hewson put over a solitary penalty for the visitors.

There is a great deal of argument in Australia at the moment regarding the clash of Sevens v fifteens.  There has been plenty of comment that Australia is guilty of concentrating their efforts and resources in the shorter form to the detriment of the full game.  This may have brought home the Rio gold in Sevens, but Australia hadn’t played a full test since 2014.  And seeing this score, it’s no wonder the comments have been made.

And finally,         

And finally, the death was announced this week of Junko Tabei.   Not heard of her?  Neither had I.

But Tabei was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.

The Japanese climber had been suffering with cancer and died in a hospital near Tokyo at the age of 77.

Tabei was the first to reach the summit of Everest in 1975 when she was 35.  She was part of a 15 strong party – all women.  When they left, she said, they faced criticism,

“We were told we should be raising children instead.”

In the end she did both, carrying on family life and climbing in parallel.

She founded the Ladies Climbing Club of Japan, which had the slogan, “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”  No mean feat for women living in a restrictive Japanese society.

In 1992 she became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on the seven continents.

By 2008 she had climbed the highest mountains of 56 countries.

But she was also involved in environmental campaigning, was a major voice in the campaign for sustainable mountaineering and was the Chair of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, which is dedicated to the protection of mountain environments.

Women’s Sports Column 15-21 October

wembley

Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and cycling. As usual I say, who knew all this was going on?  No-one if you stuck to the mainstream media outlets……

Football

FAWSL1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-2 Notts County Ladies

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ relegation was confirmed on Sunday as they lost at home 2-1 to Notts County Ladies.

A crowd of 820 passionate, mainly Donny fans were there to see their side slump to their fourteenth straight loss.

Doncaster took the lead in the seventh minute through Carla Humphrey, currently on loan from Arsenal, but they could neither add to nor defend the lead.

The Lady Pies equalised through Aileen Whelan on 22 and just three minutes later, County’s star striker, Jess Clarke curled a spectacular effort into the top corner to go ahead.

Neither side could add to the scoring in the second half and the Belles’ fate was confirmed.

Belles manager, Emma Coates, was still upbeat after the game.  In an interview with the FAWSL website she said,

“We’ve learned lessons this year so that if we come back up we’ll do it the right way, the Belles way and learn from what we’ve done wrong.

“Maybe we’ve been naïve in the past but we didn’t come up as champions, it’s even tougher coming up in second and we had a big turnover of players over a short space of time. I want to keep this team together and build something long term.”

Champions League

Manchester City have been drawn against Danish side Brondby in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first leg, which will be in Manchester, will be on 9 or 10 November, with the return fixture on 16 or 17 November.

The full draw for the last 16:

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)

Barcelona (ESP) v FC Twente (NED)

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Rosengard (SWE)

Manchester City (ENG) v Brondby (DEN)

Brescia (ITA) v Fortuna Hjorring (DEN)

Lyon (FRA) v FC Zurich (SUI)

Eskilstuna United (SWE) v Wolfsburg (GER)

Bayern Munich (GER) v Rossiyanka (RUS)

Under 17s Women’s World Cup

The final of the Under 17s Women’s World Cup will be between North Korea and Japan and will take place at the Amman International Stadium on Friday 21 October at 6pm GMT.

In the semi-finals, which were played on Monday 17 October, North Korea beat Venezuela by three goals to nil, whilst in the other Japan beat Spain by the same scoreline.

The third place play-off, between the two beaten semi-finalists, will be on Friday 21 October at 3pm GMT.

Details of the results of the two matches will be in next week’s column.

FA Cup

It was announced this week that Wembley will continue to host the Women’s FA Cup beyond 2017.

How far we’ve come!  Previous venues have included Dunstable Town FC and Glanford Park, home of Scunthorpe United.

The prize money for the 2016-17season has been tripled to £27,000 (still considerably less than some male footballers are on per week).

Tickets for the 2017 final will, as they were this year, be free for children.

Signing

Arsenal have re-signed Scotland midfielder Kim Little from Seattle Reign.

She will re-join ahead of the 2017 season (due to shift to winter), but the Gunners have not specified the length of her contract.

England Women’s Player of the year 2016

The shortlist for the award has been revealed:

Steph Houghton

Jordan Nobbs

Karen Carney

Jill Scott

Young Player of the Year shortlist:

Millie Bright

Danielle Carter

Alex Greenwood

Nikita Parris

Winners will be announced at the FA Women’s Football Awards on Friday 18 November.

Rugby

Women’s Premiership

It was round five of the Women’s Premiership last weekend and the top two met at Bristol.

The results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 15-55 Saracens Women

Worcester Valkyries 36-13 DMP Sharks

Bristol Ladies 19-15 Lichfield Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-5 Richmond Women

For a more in-depth review of these games please see my round-up on www.womensportsuk.com.

RFU News

It seems that this season will be the last of the Women’s Premiership as this week England Rugby announced that from next year there will be a new competition – the Super League (yes we have already got super leagues in football, netball and cricket)

The competition will comprise 10 teams – entry is open to any who can fulfil “minimum operating standards”.  These standards are yet to be published, but in all likelihood it will be the eight current Premiership teams plus two others, probably from the Championship.

Expressions of interest are invited by 11 November.  Application packs will go out on 14 November and the deadline for applications will be 6 January 2017.

Tennis

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore with a shoulder injury.

She has not played competitively since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September.

This means that there is still a place up for grabs and it could go to British number one, Johanna Konta.  The only person who can beat her to the place is the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro (currently 10th in the rankings) has already pulled out of the final qualifying tournament, the Kremlin Cup, through injury.

Johanna Konta can only be overtaken by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the race to qualify for the WTA Finals, after Carla Suarez Navarro’s hopes ended in Moscow.  Suarez Navarro could have passed Konta by winning the Kremlin Cup but retired with a wrist injury in round two.

Konta is not competing this week as she is still recovering from injury so it will be an anxious wait on the sidelines for her as she follows Kuznetsova’s progress.

With 470 points to be awarded for the Kremlin Cup the standings are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (Germany) – Qualified
  2. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) – Qualified
  3. Simona Halep (Romania) – Qualified
  4. Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) – Qualified
  5. Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – Qualified
  6. Madison Keys (USA) – Qualified
  7. Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) – Qualified
  8. Johanna Konta (Great Britain) – 3455 points
  9. Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) – 3170 points
  10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) – 3080 points

 

Also in tennis, British duo Naomi Broady and Heather Watson got the final of the Hong Kong Open but lost to Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei 6-3 6-1.

The Chan sisters were top seeds and the Hong Kong win was their third tournament win of the year.

Golf

 Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After two rounds of the Blue Bay event the leaderboard stands as follows:

-12 Minjee Lee (Aus)

-6 Caroline Masson (Ger)

-5 Carlota Ciganda (ESP)

-5 Jessica Korda (USA)

-4 Xi Yu Lin (Chn)

-4 Chella Choi  (SKor)

-4 Sandra Gal (Ger)

———–

-2 Charley Hull (Eng)

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news this week from both on and off the field.

West Indies v England

England took the West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI this week.  An excellent display with bat and ball plus tighter fielding ensured success.

In short, the three games at Sabina Park were topsy turvy affairs, much in keeping with the first two games.  These three also offered points towards the ICC Women’s Championship and therefore towards World Cup qualification.

The third game saw England win the toss and bat.  They posted 220 with opener Lauren Winfield scoring 79 and Nat Sciver 58.  West Indies suffered a pretty terrible collapse and were all out for 108 with top scorer Shaquana Quintyne with 21.

West Indies won the fourth game, having this time won the toss and chosen to bat.  They scored 223/6 with the excellent Stafanie Taylor hitting 85.  Although a big total, England were initially cruising in reply, but no less than five run outs saw them fall short as they were all out for 181.

The series was level again at 2-2.

When Stafanie Taylor won the toss in the last match some thought it was already job done.  But this match bucked the trend.  England’s bowlers were tight and lethal, especially the star of the tour, Alex Hartley, who took 4/24 as the Windies were reduced to 155 all out.

In the end England made it look easy and reached their target in just 38.5 overs.  Nat Sciver scored 58.

I have written a more detailed review of the series for Women’s Sports UK.  Read it here: England women take series 3-2

England still need two points for automatic qualification to the World Cup next year.  They should secure this easily in Sri Lanka next month.

Meanwhile the result also means that Australia have won the inaugural ICC World Championship trophy as neither West Indies nor England can now catch them.

South Africa v New Zealand

We are now five games into a best of seven series and New Zealand are currently 4-1 up. The latest two games at Paarl on 17 and 19 October both went the way of the White Ferns.

In game four the home side batted first, making 194 all out in 49 overs.  Top scorer was captain Dane van Niekerk with 48.  But it was not enough as the visitors knocked off the chase in a ridiculous 28.2 overs with Rachel Priest clubbing 86 from 67 balls and Amy Satterthwaite 81 from 71.

New Zealand batted first in game five.  They scored 208/8 off their 50 overs with opener Natalie Dodd top scoring with 52.  South Africa couldn’t compete and were all out for 113, meaning New Zealand won by 95 runs.  The only significant batting contributions came from Mignon du Preez with 62 and Sune Luus with 27.  Also a worry for the home side was Marizanne Kapp retiring hurt without scoring.

There are two more games at Paarl for the Proteas to restore some pride.

ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2020

Cricket Australia has announced that the women’s event will be a standalone tournament, held separately from the men’s event.

The ICC has backed the plan to hold the two events six months apart.

All of the previous five World T20s have been held in parallel with the men’s with the semi-finals and final played as double-headers.

This is undoubtedly a step forward for women’s cricket and heartening that Cricket Australia and the ICC see women’s T20 as strong enough to hold its own as an event.

The women’s tournament will be in February/March 2020 and the men’s in October/November.

Cricket Australia Chairman, David Peever, said;

“WBBL has taught us that there is an audience for women’s cricket both live and on prime-time television and this decision means we have the opportunity to hold the biggest women’s sporting event ever held in Australia.”

There have been so many initiatives and announcements recently regarding Australian women’s sport that it seems that the various sports are now in competition to see who can make the most positive strides!

Australian women’s cricket

As mentioned above, it seems that everyone in Australia is keen to invest in women’s sport at the moment.

This week Cricket Australia also announced it is to invest $15 million in cricket to “keep pace with AFL [Aussie Rules], netball”.

The investment comes from the Commonwealth Bank and is aimed at the women’s game and diversity over the next three years.

This follows hot on the heels of the governing body’s announcement of an extra $4 over four years for the development of girls’ and women’s cricket.

Time for everyone else to catch up, I feel…..

Cycling

The Road World Championships in Doha

Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen won the women’s race with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan fourth.

Dideriksen beat Kirsten Wild from Netherlands in a sprint finish with Finland’s Lotta Lepisto in third.

European Track Championships in Paris 19-23 October

Britain’s medal tally (women) after two days currently stands at three.

On the first day British Olympic champion cyclist Katie Archibald won silver in the elimination race.  She was beaten by Kirsten Wild, who seems to have gone seamlessly from Doha to Paris.  Laurie Berthon of France was third.

On the second day Elinor Barker claimed silver in the scratch race.  Ausrine Trebaite of Lithuania won the race with, you guessed it, Kirsten Wild in bronze.

There was a bronze in the women’s team pursuit for Emily Kay, Dannielle Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson.  Italy took the gold with Poland silver.

 

Women’s Sports Column 8-14 October

books
Just some of the excellent books available about women’s sport, by women!

Welcome to this week’s column.  It’s another bumper week for women’s sports news, so let’s plough straight in.  We have stories from athletics, cricket, rugby, football, sailing, tennis and cycling this week plus a shocking “and finally” to make you angry and indignant.

 

Athletics

To athletics first where Jessica Ennis-Hill has announced her retirement this week.  It was not entirely unexpected news but sad nevertheless.

Ennis-Hill has done so much to change how women who decide to have a child and then return to their sports are viewed.

She won a memorable gold in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympics in London and this year claimed silver in the same event in Rio.

On her Twitter account she said that it was,

“one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make…I’ve always said I wanted to leave on a high and have no regrets.”

She is bound to have many more years ahead of her being an ambassador for athletics and for women (and mothers) in sport.

Cricket

Another week, another bizarre item of news from cricket.

As you will all know by now, the Women’s World Cup takes place in 2017 in England and Wales.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has just announced the schedule of fixtures.  As a friend of mine commented,

“What buffoon arranged the schedule for the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England next summer?” (Thanks Martin)

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

The 28 round-robin matches will take place on eight days; on six days there will be four matches and on the other two, two matches.  So if you want to go and see the games in person, the most you can see is eight.  Whoever thought this would be a good idea?  How does Sky cover this?  One thing’s for certain, they’re not going to give over Sky Sports 1-4 to show all four on a day!  And you can’t blame them.  So, essentially, the women’s cricket-loving public is being short-changed again.

It’s something I repeatedly come up against – the organisers or governing body says “we’re behind women playing {insert sport here} all the way.  Here’s a brilliant tournament/initiative/league to show how much we are behind it!”

Then the reality kicks in and they can’t deliver.  They can’t give it the resources, time, and above all, money, to do it justice.  It’s too late to get the ICC to think again in this case, but I would implore them to look at what they’ve done and despair (apologies to mangling of Shelley).  There, rant over.

 

On the field it’s honours even between West Indies and England after the first two ODIs in the five-match series in Jamaica.  England won a tight first game by five runs and West Indies won the second after England lost their last six wickets for 17 runs and the hosts won by 38 runs.  For a more detailed round-up of these two matches please check out my report for www.womensportsuk.com. 

The sides now move to Sabina Park for the next three matches.  These count towards the ICC Women’s Championships and, therefore, towards automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

 

South Africa are also currently playing a seven-match ODI series against New Zealand.  With three matches gone the series stands at 2-1 to New Zealand.  The visitors won the first game in Kimberley by 12 runs with the home side falling short of their relatively small 128 run target.

South Africa struck back in the second winning by four wickets.  They chased down 223 with a top score of 80 from captain Dane van Niekerk and a contribution of 42 from Lizelle Lee.

The third game was an easy win for New Zealand as they surpassed their target of 189 in just 33.1 overs, losing one wicket in the process.  Although Rachel Priest was out for 10, captain Suzie Bates with 82 and Amy Satterthwaite with 89 took the game away from South Africa.

The teams now move on to Paarl, where the fourth ODI takes place on Monday 17 October.

 

Also this week it has been announced that former England captain Charlotte Edwards will play for the Adelaide Strikers in this year’s Women’s Big Bash League, which will take place in December and January.  Last season she played for Perth Scorchers.

 

Rugby

It was the fourth round of matches in the Women’s Premiership at the weekend.   Bristol are still unbeaten and sit at the top of the table with 20 points.  Lichfield are just behind them, second only on points difference:

DMP Sharks 10-67 Bristol

Lichfield 33-15 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

Saracens 5-19 Worcester Valkyries

Richmond 15-10 Wasps

For an in-depth round-up read my piece for www.womensportsuk.com. 

 

Tennis

There was bad news for Johanna Konta this week after she was forced to withdraw from the Hong Kong Open with an abdominal strain.  She pulled out before her second round match against Wang Qiang.

Konta is currently in the final qualifying position for the end of season tournament in Singapore.  But this position is not secured yet and it could go to Dominika Cibulkova if she reaches the final at the Linz Open.

Heather Watson is through to round two having beaten Marina Erakovic 7-5 7-6 in round one.  She will play Caroline Wozniacki next.

 

Football

I have to confess that the Under 17s Women’s World Cup, which is being held in Jordan, has completely slipped under my radar.

England put in some fine performances to get to the quarter-finals, including defeating Brazil 2-1 in their third group game to get them through to the knockout stage.  In the other group games they drew 3-3 with North Korea and 0-0 with Nigeria.

On 13 October they played Japan in the quarter-final, but lost 3-0 to Japan.  Goals from Endo in the third minute, and two from Ueki in first-half injury time and the 80th minute saw Japan win to meet Spain in the semi-final.

The other semi-final will be contested by Venezuela and North Korea.

Both semi-finals take place on Monday 17 October.

 

The second leg of the Champions’ league matches took place this week:

Zvezda 2005 0-4 Manchester City Women

City completed a 6-0 aggregate win to reach the last 16.

They were 2-0 up at half-time with two goals from corners; one from Jennifer Beattie and one from Lucy Bronze.

After the break Beattie headed in her second with Izzy Christiansen scoring the fourth for city just before the end.

 Bayern Munich 1-4 Hibernian Ladies

Hibs were already 6-0 down from the first leg and little hope of improving their situation in Germany.

They went behind from an Anna Gerhardt goal and Scotland international Lisa Evans scored a second.  Gerhardt got a second before Abigail Harrison pulled one back to make it 3-1 at half-time.

The Scots battled on in the second half but Munich scored again through Vivien Miedema to make it 4-1 on the night and 10-1 on aggregate.

Wolfsburg 1-1 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea put in creditable performance in Germany but, in truth, the damage had already been done in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors took the lead through an Eni Aluko goal as the striker took advantage of a defensive slip.  They held on to the lead until the 80th minute, when Wolfsburg equalised through Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir to make it 4-1 on aggregate.

Glasgow City 1-2 Eskilstuna United

After losing narrowly to Swedish side Eskilstuna last week Glasgow City would have been confident of taking the tie on home turf, but it was not to be.

Eskilstuna took the lead in the seventh minute through Olivia Schough.  Glasgow equalised just after half-time through Sarah Crilly, but they couldn’t score again and the Swedish side took the game away from them in the 58th minute with a second goal from Schough.

 

Off the pitch, as I reported last week, all kinds of shenanigans were allegedly taking place at West Ham Ladies, but this week it has been announced that West Ham United have taken the ladies’ side “in house”.

West Ham Vice-chair Karren Brady said they were “passionately committed to equality,” and that women’s football is a “high priority on our agenda.”

She added, “The addition of the ladies into the West Ham family is the solution my board and I have long sought.

“Not only does it secure the long-term future of the ladies’ side, but also guarantees current and future supporters, players and staff of the ladies’ team will form an integral part of the club’s bright future as we move forward.”

 

FIFA

The governing body of world football has appointed two women to senior positions this week.

Sarai Bareman is to be the first Chief Women’s Football Officer.  She will lead the newly created women’s football division.  She is the only female member of FIFA’s 2016 reform committee.

The other post, that of Chief Officer, Member Associations and Development, has gone to our own Joyce Cook, a tireless campaigner for equality in football and currently chair of Level Playing field, Managing Director of Centre for access to Football in Europe (CAFE)Top of Form and on the boards of Sports Ground Safety Authority and Women in Football.

 

Sailing

 A major rule change to the Volvo Ocean Race has been announced this week.  In theory it will make it easier for women to compete at this level.

The new rules mean that all-male teams are restricted to seven members and also give mixed teams a numerical advantage.

There will now be five possible crew combinations for the 2017-18 edition:

7 men

7men + 1 or 2 women

7 women + 1 or 2 men

5 men + 5 women

11 women

Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Mark Turner said,

“Sailing is one of the few sports where you can have mixed teams, and we want to take advantage of that, and also reflect the growing desire for greater diversity in businesses – in particular the kind who back the race teams today.

“We’re using the crew rules to incentivise skippers to bring one or more female sailors onboard. I really hope that it’s not necessary to have any rule at all in the future – but it seems it’s the only way today to ensure we can maintain progress.”

The race celebrates its 43rd anniversary this year and since it started there have been over 2000 male participants but only over 100 women.

 

Cycling

The Road Cycling World Championships have been taking place in Doha this week.

Amber Neben of the United States won her second individual time trial world title in a time of 36 minutes 37.04 seconds.  She was six seconds ahead of Netherlands’ Ellen van Dijk with Katrin Garfoot of Australia in third.

Britain’s Hannah Barnes was 14th and Hayley Simmonds 25th.

The team time trial was won by Dutch-based team Boels-Dolmans.  The team included Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitstead) and won in a time of 48 minutes 41.62 seconds, a full 48.24 seconds ahead of second place team Canyon-Sram which included Britain’s Hannah Barnes.   Fellow Briton Ciara Home was in the Cervelo Bigla team that finished third.

 

And finally,

In an interview with The Guardian this week, journalist and broadcaster Jacqui Oatley admitted that she had to call police when the comments she received on social media reached such a violent point that she felt under threat from them.

One person that particularly disturbed her threatened to go to her house and “cut” her among other, as she put it, “unmentionable” things.

Usually Oatley is phlegmatic about such comments so this obviously must have been something out of the ordinary.  It’s awful to even think that there is such a thing as “the ordinary” when it comes to this kind of stuff, but this is pretty much what any female sports journalist has to go through when they dare to comment on/write about/broadcast about men’s sport.

When she was covering the men’s Euros this year a rather nice chap suggested on Twitter that she should be “at home cooking the tea rather than presenting football”.  She responded by replying that she was a “bit busy doing my dream job”.

More women should be doing their dream job and if this doesn’t fit with a man’s view of a woman’s role, then this is the fault of the man, not the woman.